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John E. Gibson

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Central League fired-up Dragons blank Giants in opener

by John E. Gibson (Oct 20, 2010)

The Chunichi Dragons blew off a little steam and blew past the Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday as the final stage of the Central League Climax Series opened on Wednesday night at Nagoya Dome.

Lefty Chen Wei-yin tossed 6-2/3 scoreless innings, scattering seven hits with no walks and a hit batter as the CL-winning Dragons used four pitchers to blank the defending Japan Series champions 5-0 with 37,659 on hand.

The Giants, who finished third in the CL and elminated the second-place Hanshin Tigers in the first stage, have now lost 10 straight here and are two games down after the Dragons began the series with a one-win advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Chen made sure they extended their series lead.

"I was pretty nervous," Chen admitted about being the Game 1 starter. "But Morino and the other batters did a good job of hitting and I was just able to relax and go out and pitch.

"I'm happy but it took a while. [Having pitched in the CLCS] for three years, it's a little lame to just now get my first win." said Chen, who earned his first CLCS win in five starts.

Masahiko Morino had two hits and an RBI and Masahiro Araki had three hits for the Dragons, who aren't thinking about winning streaks or getting ahead of themselves.

"It's tough to get a victory like this, and we can't relax," Morino said. "We have to stay focused and play each game.

"It'd be nice if we can get a victory tomorrow, but that's a tough team and they're not going to just let us win."

The Giants had to do without All-Star fourth-year shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, who was scratched from the lineup with what was reported to be back trouble. He played in all 144 regular-season games, but wasn't able to go, forcing skipper Tatsunori Hara to use Ryota Wakiya in the leadoff spot and put reserve Shigeyuki Furuki at short.

Yomiuri's lefty-stacked lineup generated hits but no runs against Chen and Chunichi's bullpen, stranding 11 runners.

The Dragons hadn't played since losing at home on Oct. 2, but they came out on fire in the first inning.

Araki singled to center to start it off, and after a sacrifice, motored home on Morino's single to left. Kazuhiro Wada walked and Tony Blanco lined a shot off the wall in left that just missed being a three-run homer.

He scored on Atsushi Fujii's single to right to cap a four-run greeting for Shun Tono, working on three days'rest.

The Giants, who had the same number of wins (79) as the Dragons, didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning. But they created a scoring chance with consecutive singles by Wakiya and Yoshiyuki Kamei to open the frame.

Chen, the team leader in wins with 13, worked through the heart of the order to keep the Giants off the board, fanning Alex Ramirez with a runner at third and one out and getting Shinnosuke Abe on a popup.


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